I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the win­ter sea­son. It has only got­ten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthu­si­as­ti­cally embraced the green liv­ing lifestyle, my con­tempt for win­ter has become a bit of an obses­sion. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The ther­mostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have got­ten so cold that I have resorted to wear­ing those incred­i­bly light­weight but warm Patag­o­nia capi­lene long under­wear most days. While mall shop­ping a few weeks ago I was tick­led to find cash­mere fin­ger­less gloves that I can wear while typ­ing. I bought two pair. And Brook­stone had Tem­purpedic slip­pers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But win­ter is not with­out its rewards.

Last month, in the mid­dle of win­ter on a par­tic­u­larly frigid day, I had the elec­tri­cian here swap­ping out one set of pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mostats for ones that I can actu­ally under­stand how to pro­gram. As we were chat­ting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six East­ern Blue­birds was explor­ing the Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds that I have pro­cras­ti­nated mov­ing in for the winter.

I watched, trans­fixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the sup­port poles. Once I regained my senses, I scram­bled for my cam­era and long lens to take pho­tos. Then I grabbed my Sib­ley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see blue­birds here in November.

Appar­ently, it’s not unheard of for groups of blue­birds to stay north­ward and nest together rather than head­ing for warmer quar­ters. Mar­garet at A Way to Gar­den said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds.

In the mean­time, I’m keep­ing a keen eye out for the poten­tial return of Evening Gros­beaks. The Win­ter King Hawthorns that line the dri­ve­way near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am look­ing out the win­dows when they arrive. It’s my small con­so­la­tion for hav­ing to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.

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16 Comments

  • I am so impressed that you were able to record them photographically…what a moment! Usu­ally I stay trans­fixed too long to catch any­body.
    I am like­wise jeal­ous of those hawthorns. I can’t grow them, not because of har­di­ness (I’ve seen many cul­ti­vars in the cold, cold, cold Chicago Botanic Gar­den) but because of the inci­dence of rust fun­gus from our preva­lent East­ern red cedars. Or so the best woody plant nurs­ery­man here has always told me…but now I want some. Your fault.

  • Gail says:

    Hi Robin! What a sight it must have been…they are gor­geous lit­tle birds and quite lovely in blue with red trim. I do like your hawthorn lined drive. gail

  • Mary says:

    Hi Robin!

    Win­ter here isn’t as frigid but I still remem­ber Mary­land and dread the cold. Since mov­ing to Char­lotte, my blood has thinned and feel chilled when it’s under 45 degrees.

    It isn’t rare to see a flock of East­ern Blue­birds in the mid­dle of win­ter in the Mid-Atlantic region. Back in 03, dur­ing a hard freeze in Delaware, I looked out back and saw a dozen of them drink­ing from my heated pond.

    Lucky you!

    Mary

  • Nancy Bond says:

    What a lovely group of beau­ti­ful birds! Their color is so strik­ing. And the hawthorns are a win­ter delight, you’re right! Per­son­ally, I love the win­ter — up til March and April when it seems to stretch out forever. :)

  • Jen says:

    I have to say, my own mouth is gap­ing open look­ing at these birds. How great that you got such nice photos!

  • deb says:

    What dar­ling birdies.

  • The blue­birds may have been check­ing out the bird­houses as a place to roost.

  • You sound so cold! My good­ness, you make me grate­ful that we did a pas­sive solar design. Of course, here in North Car­olina, we don’t have the pro­longed cold.

    Our blue­birds are year-round res­i­dents here. The blue­bird houses line our neigh­bor­hood fences and they peck for worms in our meadow all the time.

    Cameron

  • Rick says:

    So that is where my blue­birds went! To visit Robin on the east coast. As the blue­bird is my state’s offi­cial bird, I have a fond­ness of them. They come and visit me each spring, and the spring of 2007 I con­vinced a nest­ing pair to stay and hatch out some. They are won­der­ful to watch.

  • Lucky you, I haven’t seen very many pretty birds here in Ohio all win­ter. We have a few bird­feeds in the back gar­den but they are only attract­ing robins and squirrles.

    It has been so cold this win­ter so far, we have a deicer on the pond and some birds come to drink the open water but mostly just a negh­bors cat. Maybe he is keep­ing the birds away?

  • You made me cold just read­ing this. The blue­bird pho­tos are fab by the way. They were so cute peek­ing out of the gourds. We have a lot of birds here because of the feed­ers, but it’s cold here too.~~Dee

  • My mom was very fond of blue­birds. Kind of sad because we never saw them in NY state. Liv­ing in cen­tral PA, I’ve seen blue­birds try to set­tle in my blue­bird boxes and in my mar­tin houses… always to be chased away by Eng­lish spar­rows. The blue­birds do some­times stick around all win­ter. When­ever I see one, I think of my mom.

  • Selma Roth says:

    I know how you feel. I lived on the east coast for 24 years, a migrant from Cal­i­for­nia, and I hated the win­ter. But I have recently come to real­ize how much nature win­ter has to offer. It’s quiet and slow-paced, but spe­cial in its own way, like seeng blue­birds against a white back­drop! I’m deter­mined I’m going to go nature walk­ing in win­ter with a whole dif­fer­ent way of see­ing. Thanks for shar­ing these delight­ful pictures!

  • You are allowed to be warm. If you are wear­ing all that gear & still can’t keep warm, it’s time to turn the ther­mo­stat up just a tick. Heat pumps still use far less energy than the fur­naces up north.

  • randy says:

    the only thing reward­ing about win­ter is when it’s over

  • Patti says:

    I had sea­sonal BB in Allen­town, PA, but they stayed all year at our home in East Hamp­ton, CT. My dear neigh­bor and I were lucky enough to have them nest every year in our boxes. One sum­mer we were even lucky enough to see all 3 babies fledge­from the box. We planted accord­ingly, put out meal­worm and did our best to pro­tect them from preda­tors, espe­cially house sparrows.